Direct Tv / rate increases and faulty information

ElSegundo, CA, United States
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In Jan 2016, I contacted customer service to find out information about acquiring as a new service. I specifically discussed the price per month and the 2-year contract, as I had been burned in the past by another company. I was not going to switch to a new service that did the same thing. I DISTINCTLY discussed the rate and that the monthly rate would stay the same for the full 2-year contract, which I could not cancel without penalties. The customer rep assured me the rate would remain the same for the full 2 years, with occasional offers.

I got the service in February 2016 and the first problem was ongoing lack of ability to DVR several programs. I contacted customer service and was told the customer rep had quoted me a price for the regular DVR device, not the GENIE, which limited my ability to record several programs at once. They did credit my account for the difference in the DVR charges-a full year of charges all at once. My monthly bill, however, was higher than was quoted because of the higher DVR option. I attributed this incident to a misunderstanding or mistake on the part of the sales rep, and let it go, because they did make some restitution, and I did want the service of the higher-grade DVR.

I had frequent problems in the first few months with episodes of TV not available, causing me to re-set my box many times and missing programs.

The next problem was an initial package of some premium channels for the 1st 3 months. At one point in the multitude of calls about the DVR and "re-set" problems, I gave verbal instructions to a customer service rep to end the premium channels when the promotion period was done, as it was getting close to the end of the 3-month period. When the bill arrived for the 4th month, I was charged for the use of those channels and no arguing with the customer-service people would remove that charge.
I again let it go, with the slow burn of a consumer who was getting the raw end of a company who apparently employed uninformed service and sales reps. The service went on uneventfully for the following months except for an occasional need to re-set my box or a dropped/interrupted DVR program here and there.
In Feb 2017, my bill went up from $51 to over $80. The explanation on the bill was "credits ended". I called customer service on 3/4/17 who took my complaint and was unable to resolve the issue (which was my demand to return the bill to agreed-upon price for the full 2-year contract.) The rep said my complaint would be "escalated, " which meant that the complaint supervisors would review the audio tapes of the initial conversation/call I had with the sales rep in Jan 2016. The service rep took my number and told me a supervisor would contact me with the decision in 5-7 business days (which would have been 3/17/17). I contacted customer service again on 3/17 when I hadn't heard back from anyone. The rep on the 17th said my complaint was still in the process, and the decision was not back yet; he said to give them one more week. In the meantime, I had received a second bill for the higher charge, which was being deducted out of my checking account, the result of which bounced some checks in my checking account. On 4/4, I received a 3rd bill which indicated my account was being credited $5 per months for 12 months. I contacted the customer service department again on 4/10, and that rep explained that the company was giving me that break as a result of my complaint. No one contacted me as the reps had stated they would. I asked to speak to their supervisor. The supervisor was very rude and said they had no way to review the tapes from the initial sales rep call, even though I gave them the rep's name and the date/time I called. He said they didn't keep the tapes. My suspicion is that they DID review the tapes, as their customer-service rep said they would do. However, they didn't want to admit the mistake made by the sales rep in 2016 and so decided to change their story.

I then asked for the arbitration process which is mentioned on my paper bill as the company's way to resolve complaints. He said he knew of no such policy and gave me the address of the company's legal department in response. I asked to have my service cancelled but he said I would be responsible for the unpaid months and a cancellation fee.
As my mother has been ill in the past months, I have not had an opportunity to legally pursue this issue but I will be, if the company does not restore my monthly bill to the agreed-upon rate.

I would like to resolve the issue with the company before it gets to that step. If their sales reps gave the wrong information to me, the consumer, it is their obligation to honor that, and re-train their employee. With this situation, they are highlighting that their customer service reps and their sales reps are improperly trained as to procedure. I got quoted the wrong information regarding 2-yr contract rates, I was quoted the wrong information regarding the higher-grade DVR service, I was told they would stop the premium channels at my request, I was told the supervisors would call me with their decision, and I was told their "supervisor" had no knowledge of what is included with their own customer bills. If ANY of the initial sales information had been truthful, I would not have taken the service. And now I will suffer credit problems if I don't pay the bill they decided to have me pay. They will charge me for the unused months and set a collection agency after me to get it.
I guess that the Direct TV company thought I would blow off yet another bait & switch facet of their service. I might have thought when I encountered the first problem (or even 2!) that some representatives made mistakes in their customer service. Everyone has bad days and makes mistakes, and a few dollars was not worth all the aggravation. I now know that this is a constant barrage of misinformation and the company screws their customers in the assumption they won't make a fuss about a $30/month increase. I absolutely wanted to support a new service that took the place of what I felt was a monopolizing cable company that also changed their rates in the past. Too bad Direct TV turned out to be even worse. I am one of a few hundred million, but my voice in the company's reputation will be joining the others who have been screwed by this service.

May 10, 2017

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